GENEVA – Chrysler Group says it will break ground on a proposed new plant in Toledo, OH, before the end of the year.

The auto maker also is closer to signing agreements with suppliers to take on major functions of the plant’s operations, including the paint and body shops. (See related story: Chrysler Toledo Plans Proceeding Quickly)

Earlier this year, Chrysler announced it would build a new plant on the site of its Toledo North plant, which builds the Jeep Liberty. The plant will replace the outmoded Stickney Avenue plant that assembles the Jeep Wrangler.

The unique work arrangement with suppliers was negotiated with the United Auto Workers union local leadership at the plant. (See related story: Chrysler Reaches Labor Pact in Toledo)

Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche expects groundbreaking before year-end.

“We are at a strong phase of discussions and early negotiations with potential partners on the supplier side. There’s strong interest in all areas where we want to see more supplier involvement,” Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche says in an interview at the auto show here.

Zetsche says the decision on which product will be built at the new plant has not been finalized. Chrysler expects to fill in that piece of the puzzle within the next few months so it can move forward with interested suppliers.

“We need a complete project with a product spec book, with a business approach as far as supplier involvement is concerned. We have to finalize that, but we are working on that,” he says.

But he is not worried the Toledo project will suffer the same fate as Chrysler’s proposed Windsor, Ont., Canada, plant that would have employed the same innovative supplier arrangement. It was cancelled when Chrysler was unable to build a viable business case.

“There’s no final go, but this should not go back to the situation we faced in a Canadian case. Things are looking very good,” Zetsche says.

kekelly@primediabusiness.com